Chef Marcus Samuelsson Remembers Anthony Bourdain - Exclusive

Anthony Bourdain will forever be remembered for his invaluable contributions to food culture. The late chef, author, and TV host touched nearly every corner of the culinary world during his illustrious career. Bourdain also left lasting impressions on a generation of fellow chefs who remember him not only for his cooking skills, but also his brilliant mind and urgent sense of adventure (via Men's Journal). One of those chefs is Food Network host, author, and philanthropist Marcus Samuelsson, who shared fond recollections of Bourdain in an exclusive interview with Mashed.

"Tony," as Samuelsson and others affectionately call him, "didn't just shape me. He shaped all of us in food that are curious and wanting to travel and experience." And that impact goes way beyond the kitchen. "There will never be a storyteller like... Anthony Bourdain," says Samuelsson, adding that Bourdain had "this special way of telling stories that you just want more of."

Samuelsson says working with Bourdain is one of the high points of his career

Back in 2015, Samuelsson got the chance to share a very intimate experience with Bourdain and the camera crew of Parts Unknown when he guided the host through Ethiopia (via Explore Parts Unknown). Samuelsson said it was "very special" and called it one of the highlights of his career — but Samuelsson also reflected on how personal the experience was. "I've gone to Ethiopia many times, but I never really brought press, media like that," he recalled, adding "I was born in a hut and I brought CNN to a hut, Tony Bourdain to a hut. To me, you can't get more personal than that."

It was also during that experience that Samuelsson says he got an authentic look at who Bourdain really was. "He was not the one that was the happiest in the hotel room bar or anything like that," says Samuelsson. "he was the happiest when we're sitting in those huts, eating with the locals, whatever was served... He was much happier being with the people, in the people, of the people... out eating and discovering something [he'd] never tasted before and asking questions around what the rituals around that [are]."

Samuelsson remembers Bourdain's lighter side, too

Chef Marcus Samuelsson admits that it's difficult to pinpoint his favorite memory with Anthony Bourdain. "I have so many incredible memories with Anthony Bourdain. And for me, I still go back to that library of memories and just, I just miss him a lot."

Samuelsson recalled that it wasn't all work and no play for Bourdain. The chef told Mashed about a funny incident where Bourdain brought Samuelsson to an after hours bar and walked him right into a costume party without a heads up. Samuelsson explains, "people were all in characters and... I was the only one that didn't understand. Because I've just never been to a three o'clock bar and you enter here and of course, super secret, knock knock, you get in and everybody's in character." Talk about embarrassing — but you can't even get mad, because it's Anthony Bourdain, after all! Samuelsson laughed recalling the story, adding that it's just one of many for a friend who led an inspiring life. "[Bourdain] could tell me so many stories and he just lived an incredible, broad, rich life and had friends and families in all cultures, in all walks of life, from the bottom to the highest boardroom... he's just a really special person."

You can see chef Marcus Samuelsson give Anthony Bourdain a tour of Ethiopia on season six of Parts Unknown, or on season two of Selena + Chef, helping the pop star learn to cook with friends; both steaming now on HBO Max.